Monday, October 8, 2012

Skechers GObionic

Adding to the Skechers running collection, is the GObionic ultra-minimal running shoes.

Design Philosophy. The GObionic is designed with the philosophy of giving freedom to the feet to move naturally while running without compromising performance.

According to the technical specifications, the shoes fits in all the the best descriptions of a minimalist shoe e.g. lightweight, flexible and have minimal cushioning, that provides sensory feel of the ground, low heel to toe drop, and ample space at the forefoot area to allow toes to splay naturally.

Minimalist Shoes and Barefoot Style Running. A lot of literature has been written and even argued on the subject of barefoot running and minimalist shoes. Sometimes the criteria varies. Here is one of my favorite literature from Runblogger. Its a good read if you want to know more on what is behind the concept and what is available in the world of minimalist running shoes. If you are new in this, then in a nutshell, the idea why barefoot running is popular is based upon a hypothesis that too much technologies (padding and cushioning in running shoes) will hinder natural running form. In that sense, minimalist shoe will support natural movement of the feet but the 'suspension system' will have to come from the runner bio-mechanical movement. Do read more about this.

First Impression-Look and Feel. At first glance, the shoes does not look like running shoes at all. They look more like leisure shoes. I guess most of Skechers collections have this similar characteristic. They are good looking and have very comfortable upper. The GObionic weights about 170 grams for a typical male size 9, which is very light. 

Fitting is good and with ample room at the toe box area, therefore allowing the toes to splay perfectly at landing, which is an important feature for barefoot style of running. Why is this important? Watch this video about  toe splay runblogger.

And  from the movement you see in this video, you might also discover why barefoot running and restriction does not go well  together. 

Varying height. From this picture you can see how the construct and profile of the cushionion system there is in front, middle and rear of the shoe. And the 'slits' are designed to provide maximum flexibility for natural movement.

The GObionic is a zero heel to toe drop pair of shoes. And if it is still too much cushioning for you, then you can easily wear the shoes without the insole (the thinnest insole I have ever seen). So for advanced minimalist runners who prefer to have a better sense of the ground, this option is available.

Freedom. The GObionic performed well - on hard ground such as the tarmac and cement pavement. Without excessive cushioning, users are force to run at a very much light treading fashion. It is almost impossible to land on the heel (it will be painful), which is what minimalist shoe is all about. This is intended so users will be able to develop safer running posture and at the same time providing the opportunity to strengthen the leg muscles by removing too much dependencies on cushioning.

GObionic can double up as excellent trail running shoes too. I find that the lift on the sole of most trail running shoes often impose a potential risk of introducing ankle sprain especially when jumping from higher ground during more technical courses. A shoe with minimal lift will remove that risk. The flexibility of the sole allows the feet to freely move about at restricted spaces like between roots and rocks.

The thin cushioning will work even when the shoes are used in rough terrains. I tried stress testing the GObionic on some of the sharpest rock path I can find - and I ran the on the most painful reflexology path that are made from really sharp pebbles. I am quite happy with the result. Although I can feel the unevenness or bump from of the sharp pebbles, but the feet is well protected from the sharp pressure.

Dislikes. There are 2 issues which I think  needs improvement. First, is that small rocks are able to stick in between the slits although they do not penetrate through.  But these small rocks can be easily remove by folding the shoes, and it only happen when I ran off-road. The other thing - the laces. They looked good with the shoes, but I think they function more like dress shoes and might be better if typical running shoe lace were used instead. But these are minor issues.

Overall, the shoes make a fantastic strength training and a gait correction shoes. It protects the feet from sharp objects for those who intend to try barefoot running. It worked well as a trail running shoe. And best of all, it let u run naturally.

Race ready. There is no doubt that if you have efficient running bio-mechanic, the GObionic can be readily be used as a racing shoe. See the picture below. Sanggetha won second place during the recent King of the Road wearing the GObionic.
(photo courtesy of Skechers Malaysia)
Skechers GO series in actions during the recent King of the Road race. Sanggetha in her GOBionic. She finished second behind Sheela, who was running in a pair of Skechers GORun. (photo courtesy of Skechers Malaysia)

Another runner who is very fast and very comfortable in the GObionic is veteran runner, Susan Khoo. Here is a picture of her running in her new minimalist gear.
(photo courtesy of Victor Chong and Elaine Tan)
There is no doubt that the GObionic lives up to the expectation of an excellent minimalist running shoe. And it has even won the Runner's World UK Editor's Choice Best Debut award. So, do look out for this super responsive lightweight shoes when it hits the store.
The GObionic will be available in Malaysia around end of 2012.

Here is a video of the GObionic in action.


  1. Nice review. Aside from the same two minor issues that you have, the shoe performs excellently in my opinion.

  2. worth trying for jungle tracking...

    1. Have yet to try it out on wet terrain, not sure how it will work.

  3. i've been running with running sandals. while i love the feel and flexibility they give me, i find the strings are a little tricky as they slide off the heels every now and then.
    am thinking about this pair of shoes. all reviews sound great!
    are they available in kuala lumpur yet ?


    1. Yes GObionic is already available at the Skechers stores now. Hope is suitable for you.


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